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Locating the MedicalExplorations in South Asian History$
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Rohan Deb Roy and Guy N.A. Attewell

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199486717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199486717.001.0001

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Re-Thinking the ‘Medical’ through the Lens of the ‘Indigenous’

Re-Thinking the ‘Medical’ through the Lens of the ‘Indigenous’

Narratives from Mahanubhav Healing Shrines in Maharashtra, India

Chapter:
(p.219) 9 Re-Thinking the ‘Medical’ through the Lens of the ‘Indigenous’
Source:
Locating the Medical
Author(s):

Shubha Ranganathan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199486717.003.0010

This chapter analyses material from a contemporary anthropological study of women seeking healing in Mahanubhav temples in Maharashtra to explore how the ‘medical’ is invoked in narratives of indigenous healing. I argue that the conceptual differentiation between ‘biomedical’ and ‘indigenous’ healing systems, often referred to in the literature on medical pluralism, is in fact at odds with people’s everyday lived experiences of healing. Women’s complicated ‘healing pathways’ reflected alternation between biomedical and indigenous healing, determined by various circumstances and factors. Such fluidity was also permitted by the temple discourses of healing, which described Mahanubhav temples as ‘hospitals’, thereby proving the ‘modern’ and ‘rationalist’ temper of the shrines, even while maintaining the greater efficacy of these temples vis-à-vis biomedical treatment for healing spirit afflictions.

Keywords:   indigenous, healing pathways, medical pluralism, efficacy, Mahanubhav temples, women, Maharashtra, spirit afflictions

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